From cookbook authors to policy makers, Food Jobs talks to men and women in the food industry at work outside of the kitchen. Is there a food job you'd like to hear about? Let us know!
Andrew Wilder had been a vegetarian since teenage years, but it wasn't until the end of a relationship in 2008, when a friend bluntly recommended he lose some weight as he re-entered the dating scene, that Wilder focused on his health. He downloaded a calorie counting app for his phone, added exercise to his routine, and six months later, he had lost 30 pounds and was feeling better than ever. "After that, I wouldn't shut up about healthy living."
Wilder had started his professional life as a stage lighting designer, but this shift in focus on his health quickly turned into a full-time endeavor.
Using tech savvy he picked up and honed in college, together with his newfound interest in health, he built and launched EatingRules.com, a chronicle based on a set of guidelines Wilder created and followed for his own healthier eating. "I realized my options were to go back to school, at three years and $100,000, or start a blog, and write about what I was learning." He also threw himself into the food blogging community. One of his most successful features on the site has been "October Unprocessed," a challenge issued to food bloggers to spend a month without eating any processed foods. In 2010, over 400 people participated in the challenge, up from just three in 2009.
The sudden popularity of his blog gave him the opportunity to talk tech at a food writers' meeting in Los Angeles in 2011. Wilder spoke about understanding Google analytics, and afterwards was inundated with requests to help on various websites. Noticing the market opportunity, he launched blogtutor.com, a blog consulting company that coaches bloggers on content, and designs and builds websites. In just over six months, he snagged some notable clients in the food blogging arena, from La Fuji Mama, a personal recipe-driven blog, to larger health and nutrition sites like Fed Up With Lunch, which takes aim at the contents of school lunches.
But his expertise is broader than just food blogs. "Notice I didn't call it food blog tutor," he laughs. "I didn't want to limit myself to one kind of blog." Nor does he limit himself to one kind of problem. Wilder fixes typical tech issues on any site from slow-loading pages to suggestions on how (and where) to register a domain name and twitter handle. More advanced clients look to Wilder to advise on fine-tuning missions and voices, and adding plug-ins and video to sites.
Wilder typically charges an hourly or project consulting fee, but realizes that many bloggers start posting as a hobby on low or no budgets with aspirations to expand into professional endeavors such as photography or longer-form publishing. To make his work available to all budgets, he is writing e-books on typical tech problems. The first one is tentatively titled "Ten Ways to Speed up Your Website."
What do you do if you can't afford your own blog tutor right now? One of his biggest pieces of advice is to be thoughtful about what is difficult to change once you've launched a site. "A domain name and twitter handle should be short, concise and memorable, and the domain name should always match your twitter handle," he suggests. "Those are things that are hard to change later and need to be set up right the first time."
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